Empire: Where the Cast of the TV Show is Today – MovieWeb

Empire ran for six seasons before its conclusion in 2020. Here’s where the cast of the Fox TV series is today.
Empire was a Fox Primetime drama series revolving around the exploits of Empire Entertainment, a fictional hip-hop/music entertainment company, and its founding family: the Lyons. The series follows the family as they struggle to maintain control of the company and keep their spot on top in the industry. The series was praised for its originality and its fresh new take on musicals. During its time on air, per EW, Empire was one of the most-watched TV shows on Fox. The series ran for a total of six seasons and earned a slew of awards and nominations, including an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Drama Series.
In 2020, it was announced that Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie Lyon, was set to receive her own Empire spinoff series. Currently, however, per Cinema Blend, the spinoff series is still looking for a network to call home. While we know that Henson will be making a comeback as Cookie, many are wondering where the rest of the cast has gone and whether we will see fellow cast members in any future projects. Here's where the cast of Empire is today.
Playing the lead role of Cookie Lyon is Taraji P. Henson. Henson starred in her breakout role in Baby Boy before landing a role in Hustle & Flow alongside Empire co-star Terrence Howard, earning a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. She would later go on to star in a number of TV series including the CBS drama Person of Interest, which earned her an NAACP Image award. Her performance in Empire earned her a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe. After her time on Empire, Henson went on to star in a number of films including Hidden Figures and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Her most anticipated upcoming role is Shug Avery in a remake of stage musical The Color Purple.
Related: Taraji P. Henson Will Return as Cookie Lyon in Her Own Empire Spin-Off Series on Fox
Terrence Howard starred in a number of films in the 1990s, including Dead Presidents. However, Howard didn't reach mainstream success until the release of Hustle & Flow for which his performance earned him the nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Since, he has starred in a number of prominent films like Crash, Get Rich or Die Tryin, and August Rush. Howard played the role of Lucious Lyon on Empire, a performance which won him the BET Award for Best Actor. In 2019, the actor announced that he was retiring from filming, but this did not last long; Howard went on to star in films like Cut Throat City and Triumph. He is also lined up to star in a number of projects whose release dates have yet to be determined.
Jussie Smollet's acting career began as a child, making his breakthrough in The Mighty Ducks at the age of 10. Smollet broke ground in his role as Jamal in Empire, receiving universal praise for his portrayal of a Black gay man in the media. His performance led him to gaining roles in films like Alien: Covenant. In 2019, Smollett staged a hate crime against himself in Chicago, making a false police report on the incident, an act that cost him his spot on Empire during its final season. In December 2021, Smollet was charged with five felony counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 150 days in jail. While Smollet has since been released, and while his case is awaiting appeal, it is unclear whether he will return to acting.
Trai Byers made his acting debut in a recurring role in the ABC daytime soap opera All My Children. The following year, Byers earned a spot on 90210 and later went on to play the role of real-life activist James Foreman in the award-winning film Selma. Despite his limited filmography, Byers has managed to make a name for himself as Andre Lyon on Empire, a performance that earned him a total of five separate award nominations. Byers' acting career has stalled somewhat, but he remains active on social media, making occasional appearances on podcasts.
Related: Best Emmy-Winning Performances in a Drama Series of the 2010s, Ranked
Bryshere Y. Gray plays the role of Hakeem on Empire. Aside from his acting career, Gray is also known under his stage name Yazz the Greatest/Yazz. While Gray has been in the public eye since 2013, when he made his musical debut on stage, his acting career began with Empire. Gray has since starred in a few films, including Sprinter and Canal Street. In 2020, Gray was arrested during a domestic violence incident and is now facing charges of aggravated assault, domestic violence, and disorderly conduct, for which he was sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years of probation. Gray's state of affairs has thrown his career up in the air, making it unclear if he will return to acting.
Grace Byers, wife of co-star Trai Byers, began her career in New York City, where she performed in Off-Broadway shows, including starring in Rent. Grace made her on-screen debut when she was cast as Anika, AKA Boo Boo Kitty, on Empire, leaving the series after four seasons in 2018. After her time on Empire, she was cast in a number of films and TV series including the horror-comedy The Blackening and has a regular spot as Quinn Joseph on the new Amazon Prime Video comedy Harlem, which was recently renewed for a second season.
Started at MovieWeb in November of 2021.


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